Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mutual Promotion

One of the greatest things about writing about small businesses, doing reviews for products and services and doing human interest pieces in general is the unique way that these bits of writing are promoted from both ends of the spectrum.

Most writers do some type of self-promotion, whether it's posting links to articles on Facebook and Twitter or lobbying for their articles to show up on the front pages of magazines and e-news bulletins, but there is rarely any other promotion that really goes on unless someone else with a big reader base finds interest in it and pushes it out to their group.

With reviews, human interest and "promotional" pieces though, you get double the promoting power.  Small businesses and individuals are excited to see their name in print, and it is rare that you will run across a business owner or local celebrity who isn't proud to share their piece with their distribution network.  The "Look at Me!" promotional tactic is good for you as a writer because you get to share the workload of getting your words out in front of people willing to read them, and is great for the person or product you're writing about because they get exposure and validation.

When writing these pieces, I've found that it helps to encourage the person/entity that you've written about to share the article(s) with their network.  Giving them permission to be proud of themselves will help prompt them to spread the article to a much wider circle, gaining positive press and exposure for both of you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

AAR's; A Chance to Get Out of the Office

AAR's, or After Action Reports, are my new favorite thing to write.  They top the list of writing assignments for one simple reason; you can't write an effective AAR without being out in the field!

I recently did an after action report on Elves Vs. Reindeer and it was one of the most engaging and entertaining writing assignment I've ever had.  It gave me a chance to talk to players, business owners and spectators.  I got to hit the paintball field and shoot of a few hundred rounds at opponents.  I got out in the rain and the mud and had a fun time doing something fun.

Writing is a great "pajama" job; there's no dress code when you're typing away on a laptop in the middle of the night.  But it's even better when it gives you an opportunity to meet other people, help to promote the businesses and causes that you believe in and give readers a little bit of insight into an event that they might have missed.  It inspires some to try something new and reignites the flame of people who are debating whether or not to sign up for the next event.

A good AAR should be as much fun to write as it is to read (and vice versa) .  More engaging than a "how-to", more action than a simple review and more engaging than a Q and A interview, if you haven't written an after action report on your favorite event series then you don't know what you're missing.  There are many AAR's and writing templates on the web to peruse if you're concerned about formatting, but don't worry too much about form (unless your prospective publisher has strict guidelines).  Instead, get out there.  Play a game, meet some people and then write about your experience.  Trust me, you'll love it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Now Writing for Paintball Monthly Press

Hello fellow writers and readers,

I'm coming to the blog today for a special announcement, one that I'm not sure I'm allowed to make since my article has not yet hit the press, but one that I'm going to make anyway.  Beginning in their next issue (January, 2011), I will now be one of the new writers at Paintball Monthly Press.

A new hard-print newspaper that has begun distribution throughout the west coast, and I'm sure will migrate nationally as it becomes more popular, Paintball Monthly Press is a FREE paintball publication.  For those of us "old" players, and for some younger ones, there is nothing like flipping through the pages of a magazine or newspaper.  Something about being in print makes things seem more "official".

My first piece will be on my good friends over at, so check the news-stands at your local fields and paintball stores for your free copy of the paper.  If they don't yet carry it, have your field representative send an e-mail to to get on the distribution list.  There's no reason not to - it's free!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Connecting With Others (Even if you don't want to)

Well, we've rushed into 2011 with much fanfare and although many of the bloggers around me are busy writing about their New Years Resolutions (mine can be found floating around a random forum somewhere, I'm sure) I am going to skip that train and move on to something that I know I'll actually follow through on.

Writing is a lonely business, no matter how you slice it.  Sure, you accumulate a slew of proof-readers, editors and readers with thoughtful comments and feedback along the way; but when you are actually engrossed in the act of writing - the work of it - it's all you, baby.  Writing is most often a silent and private affair comprised of overwhelming amounts of caffeine, staring blankly out the window and spinning slowly in an office chair staring at one's feet and wondering when inspiration will strike.

...And God forbid you actually get words down on paper!  Then you have to go through days (or months) of nail-biting anxiety while you wait to bear back on your submitted manuscripts, articles and columns, telling your friends and family that you are excited at the prospect of being published in Magazine X while secretly you cringe every time you open your e-mail or mailbox for fear that another rejection letter is waiting for you.

As I have experienced all of these things, and will continue to experience them, I have discovered that there are two ways of handling the effects of having such a solitary profession.

Option 1: Become a "lone wolf" who decorates in sequins and mirrors, falling into a pattern of self-depreciation that leaves people to describe you as "odd and eccentric", losing all sense of reality and the capability of interacting with grocery store clerks and bank tellers.

Option 2: Find some other writer who also hasn't yet made it big, is struggling to put their own words on paper and who also feels like every rejection letter they receive rips a seam in the fabric holding their being together.  Commiserate with this person about the misery of distractions, frozen thoughts and lack of ideas.  Secretly dump all of your angst and anxiety on one another so that each of you in turn can help prop up the other's ego and pride, allowing both of you to move with your lives without the rabid monkey of self-doubt gnawing at your back.

I have been fortunate to befriend a handful of other writers who are happy to join me in the celebration and frustration of writing.  Some are further down the path of "writer" than I; with stories published in books and monthly streams of income that allow them the finer things in life (like store-bought bread and matching socks).  Some of them are just starting out on their journey and are waiting for their first big break  I have discovered with these other writers a rare form of kinship that is as much about being miserable together as it is about being joyous.  As equally about selfishly ranting on about an editor who hates the word "moist" as it is about lending a kind ear and a shoulder to cry on.

If you are a writer, and if you're reading this blog on the regular you probably are, then the next time you find yourself staring at a blank screen and suffering the taunts of a blinking cursor, take a break for a moment and find a forum for writers who share your woe.  I always welcome the kinship of other writers too, so feel free to e-mail me at or find me on Facebook if you'd like to connect.  While it's true that friendship with another writer may not help you to complete those 600 words due by midnight any faster - it will at least help you to know that you aren't going at it alone.

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